UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences News

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Home away from home: Welcoming and retaining international graduate students

Dr. Amanda after completing her doctoral exam in Heidelberg, Germany, 1997

Dr. Amanda after completing her doctoral exam in Heidelberg, Germany, 1997

Having left the comforts of the United States to explore graduate education abroad, Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich has firsthand knowledge of the complex transition awaiting graduate students who come to the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences from around the globe. Completing her doctorate in Heidelberg, Germany and postdoctoral training in Basel, Switzerland allowed her to grow academically and see the world, but these experiences were often challenging, and missing her home and community at times compounded the challenges. In her new role as Director of International Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention, Dr. Bryant-Friedrich is a valuable resource to graduate students experiencing the United States, often for the first time.

“Students who decide to pursue advanced degrees outside their country of origin are often faced with barriers of immigration and matriculation that originate from a lack of knowledge from the perspectives of both the student and the respective institution of higher learning,” Dr. Bryant-Friedrich said.

As the College engages new regions of the world to attract graduate students, Dr. Bryant-Friedrich plans to introduce members of the college community to the educational systems, culture and research enterprise in each region. Her new role also requires a heightened sense of awareness of the political and economic conditions of the countries from which international learners originate to make sure that students receive counseling and support to help them to maintain an exceptional level of academic performance, even when thoughts of home are a distraction.

Another aspect of retaining international students is ensuring their sense of community upon their arrival.

“I intend to maintain strong relationships with community-based organizations that have ties and services important to the needs of our international students. This will include working with the UT Center for International Students and Programs as well as Toledo Sister Cities International and other organizations with a common interest in international relationships,” Dr. Bryant-Friedrich said.

The college is continually increasing the population of graduate students who are well prepared academically for coursework and research. Dr. Bryant-Friedrich sees this as an opportunity to create recruitment pipelines from prestigious institutions abroad.

Dr. Bryant-Friedrich, who has mentored 17 graduate students from 11 countries, feels fortunate for the opportunity to ease the transition for graduate students in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“The global scientific community relies on the establishment of productive collaborations based on mutual trust and understanding,” Dr. Bryant-Friedrich said.  “What better way to improve the human condition than to bring brilliant students from around the world together to improve what really matters.”